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Man Pleads Guilty in $7 Million Tax Evasion Case


Nov. 12, 2004 – A man charged with conspiracy to evade payment of V.I. gross receipts taxes – via an elaborate scheme where $7 million in proceeds from selling prepaid telephone cards in the territory was converted to postal money orders – has pleaded guilty.
Donald James Helms Jr., age 51, pleaded guilty in the District Court of the Virgin Islands to Count Two of a superseding indictment charging him with structuring monetary transactions for the purpose of avoiding reporting requirements, Acting U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Jenkins said in a press release.
An investigation by the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue revealed that from not later than Jan. 18, 2000, through Jan. 27, 2003, postal money orders totaling approximately $7 million were purchased at various post offices throughout the Virgin Islands, in amounts under $3,000, by Helms and/or his company West Indies Phone Cards and others for the purpose of avoiding the reporting requirement, Jenkins said.
In September, Helms, his wife Carolyn Saunders Helms, and two former employees were charged with conspiracy and structuring monetary transactions, for the purpose of avoiding a currency reporting requirement. (See "Couple Charged With Tax Evasion on $7.5 Million").
By entering into the plea agreement, Helms admitted to "structuring" financial transactions in order to avoid cash reporting requirements. He agreed to pay to the Bureau of Internal Revenue the gross receipts taxes owed for the period Jan. 18, 2000, through November 2002. He also agreed to extend the civil statute of limitations for the assessment of taxes by both the IRS and the BIR relating to the period 1998 to 2003 until April 2010, Jenkins said.
The maximum penalty for the structuring offense is 10 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine. Helms will be sentenced under the federal sentencing guidelines at a future date, which will be scheduled by the Court, Jenkins said.

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